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Nebraska Furniture Mart in Texas redefines big box
AP

Nebraska Furniture Mart in Texas redefines big box

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THE COLONY, Texas — Nebraska Furniture Mart is grabbing the attention of anyone who drives along Texas State Highway 121 in this Dallas suburb.

The mammoth structure — a nearly completed store, attached distribution center and parking garages — signals that there’s a lot inside.

The retailer recently showed off the $400 million store and warehouse to reporters.

The two-level, 560,000-square-foot store is slowly filling up with 100,000 items. By comparison, the Nebraska Furniture Marts in Omaha and Kansas City, Kansas are 450,000 square feet, and the Clive, Iowa store is a mere 24,000 square feet. The Colony's economic development unit says it is the biggest home furnishings store in North America. You could fit three Wal-Mart Supercenters inside.

The new store's 1.3 million-square-foot warehouse has more than 100 bays where customers can pull up their vehicles and load their purchases. 

It’s going to take several more weeks to move in all the merchandise, store director Ed Lipsett said, and shoppers will have to wait until spring to see it. The company won’t pin down its opening date beyond the March-April time frame.

“We believe we’ll be offering the Dallas-Fort Worth consumer a one-of-a-kind experience,” Lipsett said. “We think we have price points for everyone’s budget.”

In appliances, there are 109 dishwashers, 206 refrigerators, 76 washer and dryer pairs and 220 cooktops. Brands include high-end Miele, Bosch and Thermador, along with Whirlpool, Maytag and KitchenAid.

Furniture is grouped by style and rooms. There are 125 accent chairs, 165 recliners and 110 bedroom sets.

Besides furniture and appliances, major departments include flooring and rugs and electronics. In electronics, for example, there are smartphones and monthly plans, video game consoles and a display wall of headphones. There’s a “man cave” area stocked with pool tables and pieces such as portable bars and game tables. The store also has a large selection of office furniture.

A design studio is staffed with professionals who will not only put a room of furniture together but will also help shoppers select flooring, backsplashes and countertops. Those surfaces are sold and installed by the store.

For the kitchen, the store stocks tabletop items to small appliances. During the holidays, there will be a Christmas tree department and photos with Santa.

Nebraska Furniture Mart won’t sell groceries, but it will have a See’s Candy store inside. See’s and Nebraska Furniture Mart are both owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

This store will have a year-round patio furniture department, something its three other stores, in the wintry Midwest, consider a seasonal category.

Nebraska Furniture last opened a store in 2003 in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Dallas-area store is expected to have sales of $600 million a year. That’s a big number even for a store its size.

Some of the largest-grossing stores in the U.S. are operated by Costco, which has about a dozen stores with annual sales of more than $300 million.

The 2.2 million-square-foot Macy’s in Herald Square in Manhattan has sales of about $1 billion a year.

The Apple store with the glass entrance on Fifth Avenue in New York reportedly has hit $400 million in annual sales.

Price is a big part of Nebraska Furniture Mart’s marketing.

The store will have digital price tags similar to the system Kohl’s has in its stores.

That allows for prices to change twice a day after staff members monitor 18 competitors, including Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sam’s, Costco, Target and Wal-Mart. The store will match prices and offer an additional 10 percent discount if shoppers find a lower price.

There are clearance centers in every department.

About 2,000 people have been offered jobs so far, and many are already in training. Interviews are underway for 300 jobs. A new sales staff class of 60 starts every week, Lipsett said. “It’s like running a small university.”

Nebraska Furniture Mart is developing the $1.5 billion, 433-acre project called Grandscape that is anchored by its Texas store. Its first phase, expected to be completed early next year, will have two hotels and restaurants. The second phase is expected to start construction in 2016.

There’s a lot of construction on the roads around Nebraska Furniture Mart, from a recently opened In-N-Out Burger to hotels in the works. About 10 years ago, Ikea opened just to the east in Frisco, in what has become one of the largest shopping districts in North Texas.

Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth said he welcomes the competition from Nebraska Furniture Mart. Ikea differentiates itself with consumers because “everything we sell is our own product,” he said.

Last year, Ikea opened a store in Kansas City, but Roth said that’s a coincidence. Right now the 40-store Ikea chain has no plans to open in Omaha or Des Moines.

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